2017 is almost over and 2018 is lurking just around the corner. This very last moment of the year is the time many reflect their past performance and set new expectations for the coming year.
Similarly, organisations would normally use this very same time of the year to organise their thoughts on upcoming organisational strategies to stay relevant in the changing business realities.
In a world of constant change driven by digital technology, business that cannot keep up with what is going on around them will be disrupted by those who can. One of the main reasons that prevent any business from going with the tide is its comfort zone—the most dangerous place to be. So, if comfort zone is not safe, where should we be? The answer is discomfort, the area outside of the comfort zone. As simple as that. And if you want to see magic happening to you in 2018, take discomfort as your New Year resolution.
Before exploring a new land called discomfort, let’s set clear boundaries first. According to the Cambridge dictionary, comfort zone is “a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested”. It sounds so good but what’s the catch? The catch is, if you are in your comfort zone for too long, you will stop doing new things and challenging yourself. You will stop learning and growing.
As evolutionary animals, that poses grave risks to our survival. So if you want to grow and survive in this fast-changing and disruptive world, be discomfort, do new things and take risk, right now. Wait longer and you will be more reluctant to leave your comfort zone, watching you competitors edge you out.
Now that you are ready to break out of your comfort zone, you might wonder where to start. You can start by taking small steps towards doing anything that make you feel uncomfortable. Consistency is the key here.
To be more specific, you can start by making a list of what always makes you feel uncomfortable and then do one of them every day until it no longer pains you. It doesn’t have to be a big thing.
For instance, if talking to a stranger always makes you feel nervous, commit yourself to saying hi to a stranger you meet on the way to work or home every day. In the workplace, if you feel uncomfortable to talk to your colleagues, just ask them what they are working on right now and what you can do to help.
As a business leader, stepping out of your comfort zone is crucial to the survival of your organisation, because you cannot lead in an old way which is not going to take your organisation to the next level.
This is to say that, being in the discomfort zone means you innovate and take risks. If you fail, at least you learn something and reflect on those mistakes so you will not make the same mistakes twice.
Also, because you are a leader in your organisation, it is your responsibility to take the others with you into the land of discomfort. Engage people to work in a new way that will create higher efficiency and more measurable impacts for the organisation.
In fact, discomfort zone is anxiety-inducing and a little anxiety can help you rise to the occasion, living up to your fullest potential, studies have found. However, too much anxiety is tension which can affect performance and fuel employees’ resentment towards their organisation. So you want to make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on them until discomfort becomes too much to manage.
Last but not least, as we saying goodbye to 2017, it’s a tradition to set goals or resolutions for the new year.
Business leaders, I challenge you to frame your resolutions around the theme of discomfort and see for yourself what magic it can do to your organisation. Don’t get too comfortable. Keep trying new things. Keep going. Keep learning, and just remember that success is waiting for you outside of your comfort zone.
ARINYA TALERNGSRI is the chief capability officer and managing director of SEAC (formerly APMGroup). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.seasiacenter.com